Start Time: 4:00 PM EST
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
Records: SMU: 1-5. South Florida: 3-3. The overall series is tied 1-1.
Live Stats: here.
Line: South Florida -11.5. Over/Under: 61.
SMU Outlook: The SMU offense is all about quarterback Matt Davis. He is the leading rusher and passer and has been responsible for 18 touchdowns on the season. Davis leads a rushing attack that includes two true freshman, Xavier Jones and Braeden West. The trio have accounted for 991 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. The biggest issue is the inability to hold on to the football with the trio fumbling the ball 14 times (eight lost).
Davis is still coming into his own as a passer, but is getting sacked way too often. The total is up to 27 after six games. When he does have time to pass, Davis looks in the direction of Courtland Sutton. The receiver has more than double the number of targets as any other player on the roster. Ryheem Malone and Jeremiah Gaines are also good pass catching options. Overall, the Mustangs average 245 yards per game in the air.
If there was anything good to say about the SMU defense, I would say it. The Mustangs are among the worst in both rush and pass defense. They actually sport the worst rushing success rate allowed in the nation at 58.8%. As a result, teams have ran the ball 265 times in the first six games of the season versus SMU. Pass defense is only marginally better, but they give up 10.3 yards per pass attempt on the year. Overall, SMU gives up 570.7 yards per game of total offense.
Players to watch on the SMU defense include: Justin Lawler, Jordan Wyatt, and Darrion Richardson.
South Florida Outlook: The Bulls head into this game with an ever improving running game leading the way. The run game is successful at a 47.6% clip and figured out how to use a three back set to gain yards at will versus Connecticut last week. Marlon Mack leads the way with nearly 700 yards on the ground, followed by quarterback Quinton Flowers, and backup running backs Darius Tice and D’Ernest Johnson. All four have a yards per carry average above 4.5. Overall, the Bulls are running for 233 yards per game.
In attempting a pass on only about 40% of all plays, the passing attack has gotten much more effective in recent weeks. Flowers has gotten his completion percentage to 63.1% with Rodney Adams and Chris Barr being the most sought after targets. Even with fewer targets, passes to running backs have been most effective for the passing game with Mack and Johnson both having 11 or more catches on the season. In total, the Bulls are averaging 418 yards per game of total offense.
The defense is much better versus the run than against the pass with one of the highest run stuff rates in the nation. Other than the occasional breakaway run, the Bulls tend to force teams to run the ball in 3-4 yard chunks. Offenses are only averaging 126.7 yards per game on the ground versus USF. With the inability to run the ball successfully, teams have found room to pass the ball versus the Bulls secondary. That has been a bit of a trouble issue all season in giving up 255 yards per game in the air, though the Bulls do have seven interceptions on the season.
Players to watch on the USF defense include: Auggie Sanchez, Deatrick Nichols, and Jamie Byrd.
Prediction: South Florida is peaking at the right time and should look good versus a poor SMU rush defense. SMU just needs something good to happen in the second half of a game. Mack should run wild over the Mustangs. South Florida 42, SMU 24.